Already faring well in the construction sector in recent years, the City of Hamilton remains on the upswing.
In the first quarter of 2012, the Steel City has easily surpassed the impressive numbers it posted during the same time frame in a booming 2010. That year, $1 billion worth of projects were built in the city, which set a Hamilton record.
The first quarter of this year saw $271 in construction projects, an increase of $75 million over the first quarter of 2010.
This year’s boom is driven in part by a number of large projects, including $15 million for the McMaster Automotive Resource Centre and work on a $6.5 million hotel, the first site in developer Darko Vranich’s $125 million complex.
An even larger driver, however, is a massive increase in commercial and industrial construction. The amount of money invested in that sector more than doubled from 2010, from $28 million to $65 million. A $7.7 million WalMart and a $2.5 Starbucks/Shoppers Drug Mart complex near McMaster University were among the largest commercial construction projects from the first quarter of this year.
Hamilton director of economic development Neil Everson said one of the most positive signs regarding the building boom lies in the fact that it is not dependent on any one sector. That, he said, has been a large part of what has helped the city continue to prosper compared to others during tough economic times recently.
“The diversity is what makes us really happy,” he was quoted as saying in the Hamilton Spectator. “I think that’s what helped Hamilton weather the 2008 recession somewhat better than other places which may be reliant on the auto sector, for example.”
With new projects in the pipeline, the outlook should remain strong through the year’s second quarter. Large-scale projects by Activation Labs and Maple Leaf are set to commence during the quarter, fueling continued prosperity. Nothing is guaranteed, however, as Everson noted residential building permits can be difficult to forecast.
Between its record 2010 and the sterling first quarter of 2012, Hamilton also fared well in 2011 according to a review by its economic development department. That review showed commercial and industrial building permits – typically key indicators of the strength of the building industry – were responsible for an impressive 21 per cent of the total permits issued last year.